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CUPE Global Justice committee members Barbara Wood and Ricardo Miranda left  Canada for Colombia this  week as part of an international observation mission.  

Wood is executive director of CoDevelopment Canada and a member of CUPE 1004. Ricardo Miranda is president of Local 4095, part of CUPE’s Airline Division.

 The mission is being coordinated in collaboration with the Misión de Observación Electoral (MOE), a Colombian civil society organization that has been working to promote democracy in Colombia through electoral observation and analysis.  

The purpose of the international mission is to support the work of the MOE by helping to bring international attention to the March 14, 2010 congressional elections.   The international delegation includes 22 representatives from the United States, Canada, the European Union and Australia.
The group will attend briefing meetings in Bogotá. Next, they will divide up and go to four different regions of the country in order to meet and hear from representatives of a diverse cross-section of Colombian society.  They will meet again in Bogotá in order to discuss findings and develop a report.

The 2010 elections come at an especially sensitive moment.  Over the last year, more than 83 members of the Colombian national congress have been indicted for affiliation with illegal paramilitary organizations financed by the drug trade.  The disgraced members – mainly from the governing coalition of President Alvaro Uribe – represented a third of Colombia’s House and Senate seats.  The penetration by paramilitary organizations into the Colombian government heightens concerns for a free and fair election process in 2010.

It is also likely that the Colombia-Canada Free Trade Agreement will be re-introduced in Canada’s parliament just ahead of the Colombian elections.  CUPE, along with other organizations across the country, have been adamant that no agreement should be implemented without an independent human rights assessment.

Check cupe.ca for more updates from the delegation.